Echo Energy Updates on Well Result In Argentine Production Uplift

(Echo Energy, 22.Oct.2018) — Echo Energy announced plans to boost production at the Cañadon Salto Field in the Fracción D licence in Argentina, where it has now achieved 115 barrels per day (from 5 barrels per day) following four successful pilot well interventions.

Work has now been completed on four wells in the Cañadon Salto Field using the Quintana-1 rig as part of the previously announced plan to boost production. All four targeted wells (CSo-96, CSo-104, CSo-21, and CSo-80) have now been successfully commissioned, with production, pumps and offtake being optimised.

This initial phase has already produced very encouraging results with the combined oil production from the four wells currently totalling in the order of 115 barrels per day, with these rates increasing as the wells ‘oil-in’ and the pumps and associated facilities are optimised. The CSo-96 well which was the first well to be commissioned has seen a material increase from its initial production of 12 barrels per day rising to the current level of 60 barrels per day and is an indicator of potential capacity of these wells.

Prior to the interventions the total gross production from the Cañadon Salto Field area was less than 5 barrels per day out of the total gross oil production across the CDL licences (Fracción C, Fracción D and Laguna De Los Capones) of around 500 barrels per day (number excluding gas production). This increased production post interventions represents a more than 20 fold increase for the Cañadon Salto field.

The results of the pilot project well performance will now be monitored, with a view to considering next steps for the field. A full-scale remediation project across the field could potentially see production levels of over 400 barrels oil per day achieved with a commensurate increase in contingent resources.

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Bolivian, Argentine Officials to Discuss Gas Issues in La Paz

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 21.Oct.2018) — Officials from Argentina and Bolivia will meet in La Paz on Oct. 22 to discuss issues related to the purchase and sale of natural gas and overdue payments.

A mission of authorities from Integración Energética Argentina S.A. (IEASA, formerly ENARSA) will meet with their Bolivian counterparts to explore solutions to accumulated unpaid debts related to the purchase of Bolivian natural gas, reported the daily newspaper La Razón.

Argentina owed an estimated $265 million to Bolivia for the purchase of natural gas from its neighbor. This figure is expected to rise to $398.5 million, including last month’s purchases of $133.5 million, reported the daily.

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Añelo Population Growth Part Of Region’s Shale Boom

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 20.Oct.2018) — Añelo’s population is expected to reach 25,000 by 2023 compared to nearly 8,000 today and just 2,000 in 2011, reported the media outlet Río Negro.

“80% of the city has basic services such as water, electricity, gas and sewage,” reported the daily, citing Deliberative Council President Milton Morales.

In October 2018, the city will inaugurate its first level 3 hospital with assistance from the YPF Foundation and Chevron’s Baylor Foundation.

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Argentina To Reduce Bolivian Gas Imports To Minimum

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 20.Oct.2018) — Argentina will likely reduce its demand for Bolivian natural gas imports to a minimum, says an oil analyst.

Argentina, which continues to boost production of its unconventional shale gas resources located in the Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquen region, will likely reduce its demand for natural gas imports from Bolivia to a minimum 23.5 million cubic meters per day (MMcm/d), reported the daily newspaper El Diario, citing Jubilee Foundation Oil Analyst Raul Velásquez.

The analyst made the comments after declarations from Argentina’s Energy Secretary Javier Iguacel that revealed that in two years the country would no longer need to import gas from Bolivia.

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Camisea Consortium Resumes Operations at Malvinas Gas Plant

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 20.Oct.2018) — The Camisea Consortium confirmed conditions at the Malvinas Gas Plant “are normal and present no risk to the safety of people, operations or the environment,” reported the daily newspaper El Comercio.

Today, starting at 5 p.m., normalization of plant operations will begin, with expectation of reaching total production capacity of natural gas and natural gas liquids to supply the domestic market and exports by 8 am on October 20, the consortium announced after completion of preventive evaluation of the site.

On October 16, at noon, during a routine inspection, a “potential atypical condition” was detected at one of the facilities at the processing plant, reported the daily.

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YPFB Reports Explosion Along Santa Cruz-Yacuiba Gas Pipeline

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 19.Oct.2018) — An explosion along a portion of a pipeline that transports natural gas to Argentina injured a total of five people.

Bolivia’s state oil entity Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPFB) has initiated an investigation to establish the causes and origin of the incident, reported the daily La Razón.

“This event has been sudden and unexpected. We don’t know the causes … however it is being investigated,” reported the daily, citing YPFB National Vice President of Operations Gonzalo Saavedra in an interview with Cadena A.

At noon on October 19, an explosion occurred along a portion of GSCY (Santa Cruz – Yacuiba) gas pipeline in the city of Villa Montes, in the department of Tarija. The explosion was controlled in a couple of hours.

All the injured were transferred by helicopter from Villa Montes to a medical center in Santa Cruz de la Sierra due to the severity of the burns. Among the victims there are two children, the daily reported.

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Bolivian Refineries Cover 71.4% Of Domestic Demand for Special Gasoline

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 19.Oct.2018) — Production of special gasolines from Bolivia’s three existing refineries isn’t sufficient to cover the country’s demand.

Domestic supply only covers 71.4% of domestic market demand, down 2% compared to 2017, and down 5% between January and May of the current year, reported the daily El Diario.

In May 2018, the Jubilee Foundation reported the Gualberto Villarroel, Guillermo Elder Bell and Río Negro refineries produced a combined 3,570,000 liters per day of gasoline versus demand of 5,000,000.

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Brazil Reserves And Production Update, H1 2018

(Seeking Alpha, George Kaplan, 19.Oct.2018) — Brazil and Petrobras show something in common with US LTO: even with a lot of debt and desire, and a strong resource base, it is difficult to raise production in the face of high decline rates. It may also be a lesson for the world as oil prices rise and activity picks up; it is by far the most active conventional oil region with many major projects at various stages of completion, but facing delays and schedule crowding so oil production has continued a slow decline, contrary to expectations from last year. In July, new production again did not quite match overall decline, mostly because of delays in start-ups of FPSOs planned for this year, and at 2575 kbpd was down 14 kbpd or 0.5% m-o-m and 48 kbpd or 1.8% y-o-y (data from ANP).

Two FPSOs were started in 2017: Lula Extension Sul (P-66) at 150 kbpd nameplate and Pioneiro de Libra, an extended well test project on the Mero field, at 50 kbpd. Both are now about at design throughput. Two other FPSOs completed ramp-up in 2017. In 2018, three FPSOs have started up: Atlanta a small early production system at 20 kbpd, Bezios-1 (P-74) in the Santos basin at 150 kbpd and FPSO Cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes on the Tartaruga Verde field in Campos, also at 150 kbpd. There were three other FPSOs due for the Buzios field (P-75, 76 and 77) but at least one is delayed till next year. There are now four planned FPSOs remaining to be started up this year, all in the fourth quarter: P-75 and P-76 plus P-67 (Lula Norte) and P-69 (Lula Extremo Sul) in the Lula field (each 150 kbpd nameplate). Even for a company the size of Petrobras that seems a very tight schedule for commissioning large, complex plant, so one or two may slip to next year and all may be so late as to make little difference to this year’s numbers.

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Mexico’s Peso Falls To Lowest Level In 5 Weeks On Pemex Outlook

(Reuters, 19.Oct.2018) — Mexico’s peso currency reversed gains on Friday to fall 1 percent, hitting its lowest level in five weeks after a report by ratings agency Fitch on national oil company Pemex.

Following the decision by Fitch to revise the company’s outlook rating to negative from stable, the peso currency weakened to 19.34 pesos per dollar. (Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez)

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YPF Personnel Try To Mitigate Gas Leak In Bandurria

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 19.Oct.2018) — YPF personnel conducted operations today to mitigate a gas leak located at the Bandurria deposit in Neuquén.

No injuries were reported, and the location was evacuated for security reasons to initial contingency work, reported the media outlet Río Negro.

YPF didn’t reveal details about the incident.

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Petrofac Completes Sale Of 49% Interest In Mexican Operations

(Petrofac Limited, 19.Oct.2018) — Petrofac Limited announces that it has completed the sale of 49% of the company’s operations in Mexico to Perenco (Oil & Gas) International Limited, following approval from the Federal Competition Commission of Mexico (COFECE).

Related Stories

Petrofac Introduces Partner In Mexico

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Foreign Oil And Gas Firms Look To Play Crucial Role In Venezuela

(Energy Global, David Bizley, 19.Oct.2018) — The majority of foreign companies are not making any profit or losing money in their partnerships with PDVSA to develop and produce hydrocarbons due to inadequate investment, shattered infrastructure and US sanctions.

However, in the long term, having access to the vast hydrocarbon reserves of Venezuela compensates the current country risks and current negative cash flows in joint ventures (JVs), says GlobalData.

In this way, foreign companies have formally or informally also gained operatorship in key upstream fields located mainly in the Orinoco Belt. Indeed, Rosneft gained operatorship in the Mejillones and Patao blocks and exporting rights for 30 years with an in-kind 20% royalty rate.

Chinese and Russian companies have invested the most in the Venezuelan oil and gas sector during recent years. China, through its Development Bank, has provided more than US$60 billion in loans to Venezuela. In 2018, it has given an additional US$5 billion loan to support oil developments in the country, on top of the US$6.3 billion in loans since 2014 from Rosneft.

David Bautista, Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In other important basins such as Maracaibo or East Venezuela, most companies have recovered their initial investments. Thus foreign participants will likely be able to improve their JV terms and conditions in exchange for capital injection in the sector if the critical situation ends when PDVSA is finally able to boost production.”

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Petrobras and CNPC Define Business Model For COMPERJ, Marlim Partnership

(Hydrocarbon Engineering, Alex Hithersay, 18.Oct.2018) — Petrobras has announced that it has signed an integrated project business model agreement (IPBMA) with China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Co. (CNODC), a subsidiary of CNPC, advancing towards their strategic partnership, as disclosed to the market on July 4, 2018.

The IPBMA details the steps of a feasibility study to evaluate COMPERJ refinery’s current technical status, its investment case and the remaining scope to conclude the refinery and the business valuation. A joint team composed by CNPC and Petrobras specialists and external consultants will conduct the studies.

Once the full benefits and costs of this project are quantified, the next step is to create a joint venture (JV) between Petrobras (80%) and CNPC (20%) to conclude and operate the refinery.

The integrated project also includes 20% participation of CNPC in Marlim cluster, which is composed by Marlim, Voador, Marlim Sul and Marlim Leste fields. Petrobras will have 80% and will keep the operatorship of all these fields.

Marlim crude oil production perfectly fits the design crude slate to be processed in COMPERJ refinery, a high conversion heavy oil refinery.

The JV’s effective implementation depends on the successful results of COMPERJ feasibility study with the respective investment decision by the parties, as well as the negotiation of final agreements.

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YPFB To Build Five Satellite Regasification Stations

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 18.Oct.2018) — Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) plans to build five satellite regasification stations (ESR) that will benefit 12 populations of La Paz, Potosí, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz.

YPFB will move forward with the five ESR projects, which will benefit 12 communities located in La Paz, Potosí, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz, announced Bolivia’s state oil entity in an official statement on its website.

These projects are in addition to 27 ESRs that already operate across the country, YPFB said, citing Executive President Oscar Barriga Arteaga.

A YPFB LNG Plant, the first of its kind in Bolivia, is located in Rio Grande, Santa Cruz and distributes gas to ESRs through cryogenic tanks. The plant’s production capacity is 210 metric tons per day (TMD) of liquefied natural gas. The ESRs receive natural gas supply for domestic, industrial, commercial and vehicular natural gas consumption, YPFB said.

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Gas Shortages In Southern Mexico To Reach Critical Levels In November

(S&P Global Platts, 18.Oct.2018) — Gas shortages in southern Mexico will reach a critical point in November as Pemex natural gas production continues declining and users lack access to LNG terminals, industrial users in southern Mexico told S&P Global Platts on Thursday.

Pemex is not nominating gas for several industrial users in southern Mexico as a result of decreasing production, Cleantho de Paiva Leite, director for new businesses with Braskem Idesa, told Platts on the sidelines of the Mexican National Petrochemical Forum.

“The situation could lead to a complete stoppage of the industrial activity in southern Mexico,” said de Paiva Leite, whose company operates the most polyethylene capacity in Mexico.

Pemex is allocating its diminishing gas output to fulfill the needs of its subsidiaries and power generators, a second petrochemical company in southern Mexico told Platts at the forum.

PIPELINE CONSTRAINTS

Gas shortages in southern Mexico have become more acute due to infrastructure constraints on gas flows into Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, one of Mexico’s largest petchem and industrial hubs, Paiva said.

This situation will be eased once the Mexican government completes the reconfiguration of the Cempoala compressor station in the state of Veracruz, which is expected to be completed in Q1 2019, according to Mexico’s Energy Secretariat (SENER).

The only options for users in this situation is to shut down operations or consume gas without a nomination being sent to Pemex, which would result in steep penalties, Miguel Benedetto, general director of the Mexican Association of the Petrochemical Industry (ANIQ), told Platts on the sidelines of the forum.

However, consuming gas under or above the nominated level leads to natural gas imbalances in the network that is addressed by system operator Cenagas via LNG injections, Benedetto said.

A large steelmaker in northern Mexico told Platts that some industrials with access to declining Pemex gas fields in northern Mexico also are resorting to taking gas from the system without nominations and incurring imbalance penalties.

Earlier this month, Mexico’s business coordinating council, or CCE, told Platts that Pemex also is not delivering all the gas that is being nominated.

“It isn’t a good signal. We are having gas supply problems,” Roger Gonzalez, president of CCE’s energy commission, told Platts. “The reduction has been limited, but this is decreasing system pressure and affecting industrial users’ operations.”

LNG PENALTIES

Cenagas charges for LNG at spot prices with a 50% penalty, which is hugely uncompetitive, he added. “So, choose how you want to die: by shutting down operations or paying $21/MMBtu gas,” Benedetto said. LNG prices in Mexico are three to four times more expensive than continental gas imports.

Pemex, Braskem Idesa and INAQ told Platts that to address the current gas shortage the Mexican government must stop targeted LNG penalties to shippers and end-users and reverse deregulation to a situation in which all users share LNG costs.

Benedetto said the government needs to intervene because the imbalances on the system are a result of gas shortages due to declining Pemex production.

“Before when unbalances happened, LNG expenses were shared by everyone in Mexico, pushing gas prices to $4-$5/MMBtu. Now, we in the south pay gas at $20/MMBtu due to the new balancing regulation,” Paiva said.

Recent data from SENER shows the gas demand in the petchem sector has been in free fall, reaching 214 MMcf/d in 2016 from 697 MMcf/d in 2013.

Pemex didn’t immediately respond to requests for more information on the southern supply shortages. However, Carlos Trevino, Pemex’s CEO, previously told Platts the country is facing irregularities in its gas supply. “Without a doubt, there is not enough gas to supply all the market demand including Pemex and its subsidiaries,” Trevino said in an interview at the Mexican Petroleum Congress in Acapulco at the end of September.

REVERSING LIBERALIZATION

Benedetto said ANIQ wants Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) to reverse the liberalization of wholesale gas prices, known as first-hand gas sales or VPM.

CRE previously set the maximum price for gas to be sold by Pemex using a formula based on US prices. VPM prices were regulated under this formula at two hubs, Reynosa on the Mexico-Texas border and Ciudad Pemex in southern Mexico. The switch to free-market conditions was expected to provide Pemex and other independent producers the revenue to reverse the country’s production declines.

Pemex’s gas production has declined from more than 6 Bcf/d at the beginning of the decade to an average of 3.9 Bcf/d in 2018, SENER’s data shows.

Benedetto said no open-market conditions exist today in southern Mexico, adding that lack of infrastructure to move gas south prevents new shippers from servicing users in this region, leaving a captive market under Pemex.

Pemex also isn’t reacting to market incentives to boost production in southern Mexico although industrial users are being curtailed or are having to pay LNG gas prices, he added. The regulations anticipated a “competitive market that doesn’t exist,” Benedetto said.

Braskem Idesa’s Paiva said that Mexico can’t change overnight from a state monopoly to a free market without ensuring there is enough infrastructure and interconnections in the system. “This has to be an organized transition with the coordination of CRE, Cenagas, Pemex, and SENER,” he added.

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Moody’s: Mexican Government’s Plan To End Oil Exports Raises Risks

(Kallanish Energy, 18.Oct.2018) — The incoming Mexican government’s announcement to end oil exports is credit negative to both Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and to the government’s credit quality, says Moody’s investors Service, in a new report.

The oil company’s operating cash flow would decline and become more volatile under the new refining-focused business model, Moody’s believes.

“Pemex would be exposed to greater foreign exchange volatility, since its income from fuel sales would be in Mexican pesos, while 87% of its $104 billion debt as of June 2018 is in U.S. dollars or other hard currencies.” said Moody’s senior vice president Nymia Almeida.

“The new plan could also force Pemex to import crude, which would add to its cash-flow and foreign-exchange risk.”

The oil company’s credit quality would weaken depending on how much crude it needs to import to feed its refining capacity, Kallanish Energy understands.

Moody’s believes the risk of Pemex posting lower operating cash flow within the next three years is even greater considering the upward momentum on crude prices, and the new government’s stated intention to not increase domestic fuel prices.

Although the federal government has decreased its reliance on oil revenue since its 2013 tax reform, the loss of oil revenue from a loss-generating Pemex could substantially widen Mexico’s fiscal deficit.

Plans to halt oil exports would deprive the government of nearly 2% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in revenue, forcing it to raise taxes or abandon its pledge of fiscal discipline.

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Petrobras LSFO Offer Sparks Fears Of Length In Europe

(S&P Global Platts, 18.Oct.2018) — Brazil’s Petrobras is offering 50,000 mt of 0.6% cracked low sulfur fuel oil from Brazil for delivery into Europe during the first decade of November, fuel oil traders said Thursday.

The cargo from Petrobras, Brazil’s biggest refiner, is not good news for European LSFO after a period of steady demand in the Mediterranean, as this additional cargo will add length in Europe.

“This is the last thing we want in Europe,” a fuel oil trader said.

The LSFO market tightened through September and early October as the Mediterranean continued to demand 1% fuel oil for utilities, but traders expect this to soften in the coming weeks as the extended summer air-conditioning demand dips.

“The market seems oversupplied now, all the key refineries are coming back from maintenance, the summer demand is gone,” a second fuel oil trader said.

The 0.6% sulfur Petrobras cargo will likely go into the blending pool, and a possible destination could be the Algeciras blending hub, a source said.

Last winter, the European LSFO market benefited from some additional non-EU demand from Brazil’s Petrobras to fulfill a shortfall in requirements due to a drought. This combined with maintenance at a key LNG import facility necessitated oil imports for power generation as Brazil’s 70% of electricity is hydropower.

Petrobras could not be reached for comment to confirm the cargo or the purpose of the export.

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Trinidad Govt Announces New Company For Refinery Assets

(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Carla Bridglal, 18.Oct.2018) The government has announced a new state company, Guaracara Refining Company, into which the assets of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery will be placed.

The refinery is scheduled to be shuttered by next month, and after the assets have been transferred to Guaracara, the company will advertise a “very broad” request for proposals (RFP), where any interested party can pitch their plan on how the refinery can be utilised.

“Everything will be open for discussion. At the end of the day, we feel we will get a proposal that is acceptable where we will no longer have this albatross around our neck called the refinery, but the assets can still be used in a productive way for the benefit of TT,” Energy Minster Franklin Khan said yesterday at the post-Cabinet media briefing.

Guaracara is one of five new companies created as part of the restructuring of state oil company Petrotrin, including Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd and Paria Fuel Trading Company, which will handle exploration and production and trading and marketing, respectively. Petrotrin as an entity will remain as a company to deal with legacy matters, and these will all be placed into one, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd.

Heritage and Paria were incorporated on October 5, but according to the Companies Registry, Guaracara is not yet listed.

Khan said a vesting order was being prepared to transfer Petrotrin’s exploration and production assets to Heritage and the terminal, port and pier assets to Paria. There will also be an assignment of exploration and production licences under the name of Petrotrin at the Ministry of Energy to Heritage.

“The transformation process is well on its way and going smoothly,” Khan said. The government hopes to have the new companies operationalized by the end of this year, he said. “All things being equal, 2019 will be a brand new year for the energy sector in TT,” he said. As it stands, all operations are still continuing under the name of Petrotrin. Khan added that all timelines are on schedule for the import and export of fuel and crude oil. The first shipment of fuel is expected around October 22-24 and the first crude export will be October 30-November 1. Neither Khan nor his Cabinet colleague Communications Minister Stuart Young could verify if Petrotrin had indeed retained a supplier for fuel. Khan said the company was “very close if not there already” when asked by reporters for the status, while Young said, given the information provided “I’m sure they have a supplier by now.”

Regardless, Khan said there would be a “seamless transition for the supply” of liquid fuel, liquid petroleum gas (LPG or cooking gas) and bitumen, and the country has a 20-day buffer supply should there be any lapse in delivery time.

Young also said that the price Petrotrin’s crude oil was fetching on the international market was well above the West Texas Intermediate price, the international benchmark price at which the TT budget is pegged. “We thought it would have been less than WTI. It’s even higher than we thought the crude was worth,” Young said.

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Tarija Department Has Accumulated Losses of $100 Mln Since 2012

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 18.Oct.2018) — Bolivia’s Tarija department has lost about $100 million in the last eight years.

The figure corresponds to revenues the department has lost between 2012 and October 2018 from not distributing resources from the Margarita-Huacaya field, which the region shares with Chuquisaca, reported the daily newspaper La Razón, citing United to Renew (Unite by its Spanish acronym) Councilman Alfonso Lema.

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Pemex Has Registered 40,000 Illicit Connections Since 2012

Pemex’s Carlos Treviño. Source: Pemex

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 17.Oct.2018) — Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has registered 40,000 clandestine pipeline connections in the last six years, announced company General Director Carlos Treviño during a speech to the Chamber of Deputies.

“Pemex is most concerned about this problem as it damages a company of Mexican citizens,” reported the daily El Financiero, citing Treviño.

Illicit pipeline connections continue to rise due to increased participation of organized groups mainly in states such as Puebla, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Veracruz and Jalisco, reported the daily, citing data from 2008.

The municipalities most affected include: San Martin Texmelucan, Atlacomulco de Zuniga Jalisco, Cuautepec de Hinojosa, Gonzalez Tamaulipas and Tula de Allende, said the official.

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Pemex Sells $2 Bln Bonds To Fund Investment And Refinance Debt

(Offshore Technology, 17.Oct.2018) — Mexican state-owned petroleum company Pemex has reportedly sold $2bn of its bonds.

The sale of the ten-year Pemex bonds is said to have generated about 6.5% in a move, which is aimed at funding the company’s investment, as well as refinance debt.

A Pemex spokesperson said in a statement: “With this deal, our cash level for the end of 2018 has been strengthened and we guarantee the company’s liquidity for the start of 2019.”

Starting on 1 December, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador will manage the company. Octavio Romero will serve as the head of the company.

HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Scotiabank, and UBS handled the issue, which was oversubscribed 5.9 times, and involved the participation of investors from the US, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.

According to the Financial Times, an undisclosed Pemex investor said that the sale of Pemex bonds is required to pre-fund needs for next year.

The investor did not reveal details on whether tenders of oil assets will continue or not.

Pemex, which is struggling with a production fall for 14 years, announced discoveries of seven reservoirs in two new wells in Mexico’s Southeast Basin, last week.

With the new wells Manik-101A and Mulach-1, the company will be able to incorporate more than 180 million barrels of oil equivalent of 3P reserves.

Pemex said that the new shallow water discoveries will become part of its portfolio of fields that are under development and have been discovered in recent years.

The company is currently evaluating and developing six fields, which are expected to have combined peak production of up to 210,000 barrels of oil per day and 350 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

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Mexico’s Next Government Faces Bind In Pemex Ethane Deal

(Reuters, Diego Oré, 17.Oct.2018) — Mexico’s incoming government will soon inherit a costly dilemma over an ethane supply contract between national oil company Pemex and a consortium led by a unit of Brazilian builder Odebrecht.

Under the contract’s terms, Pemex has had to supply ethane well below current market prices.

A hydrocarbon that comes from natural gas, ethane is used to make ethylene, which in turn is used to make the common plastic polyethylene at the Braskem-Idesa plant near the Gulf coast port of Coatzacoalcos.

The plant is operated by the consortium in which Odebrecht’s unit Braskem has a 70 percent stake and Mexico’s Grupo Idesa holds the remainder.

Energy aides to President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez, who takes office Dec. 1, have said the contract is problematic, but have not yet said what the new government will do about it.

“The contract with Braskem is very damaging to Mexico’s interests,” Sen. Armando Guadiana, of Lopez Obrador’s Morena party and heads the Senate energy commission, told Reuters last week. Pemex is fully owned by the government.

The Braskem-Idesa consortium told Reuters last week it has no plans to void the contract.

If President-elect Lopez Obrador were to direct Pemex to cancel the contract, it would be forced to purchase from the consortium the sprawling Etileno XXI petrochemical facility currently valued at $1.26 billion (£956.43 million), according to a contract annex seen by Reuters.

Neither Pemex or Braskem responded to questions about the valuation.

Conversely, if the new government opted to stick to the deal, it could only hope for more favourable ethane prices that might reduce its losses.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL?

Under the terms of the 20-year-long contract, Pemex committed to selling ethane to Braskem-Idesa for 16 cents per gallon. When the contract was signed in 2010 market prices for ethane were three times that, at 50 cents per gallon.

Current ethane prices hover around 40 cents per gallon.

A Pemex spokesman said the contract, which took effect in 2016, “responded to the market conditions of that time.”

Before the facility began operations in 2016, Pemex produced more ethane than it needed, forcing it to inject excess supply back into its natural gas pipelines.

Pemex’s production of ethane this year averages 88,000 bpd, but this is now insufficient to supply its own Morelos and Cangrejera petrochemical facilities that require a combined 66,900 bpd, plus the Baskem-Idesa contract obligation of 66,000 bpd.

As a result Pemex was forced to turn to ethane imports this year for the first time as domestic oil and gas production continues to fall, costing Pemex some $50 million during the first half of 2018, according to Reuters calculations, due to the cost of imported ethane at market rates compared to the cheaper fixed price in the contract with the Braskem-Idesa consortium.

If Pemex is left without enough ethane, it would have to shut down the so-called cracking plants at its two petrochemical facilities, and the cost of re-starting them after being idled one week would be some $2.6 million, according to comments from the head of Pemex’s ethylene unit, Alejandro Cruz, at a board meeting in December.

In June, pricing agency Platts reported that Pemex entered into a $237.6 million contract with Swiss commodities trader Vitol to supply 720,000 tonnes of ethane to Pemex through 2020.

Both Pemex and Vitol declined to confirm the deal.

In 2016, Mexico’s federal auditor determined that Pemex ethane exports during a 10-month stretch of that year could have yielded the company more than $100 million had it not been for the Braskem-Idesa contract.

Using official data, Reuters calculated a similar $100 million opportunity cost in 2017.

Both Pemex and Braskem declined to comment on the calculations.

Braskem said the contract was mutually beneficial, arguing that it helps cut Mexico’s reliance on foreign plastics.

“We are not planning on undoing a positive contractual relationship that we’ve been building with Pemex and that brings benefits to all,” said Sergio Plata, head of institutional relations for the Braskem-Idesa consortium.

Rocio Nahle, Lopez Obrador’s pick to be Mexico’s new energy minister, has said the incoming government will review the Braskem-Idesa contract for possible signs of corruption, part of a broader energy contract review.

The consortium’s Plata said he was confident the contract will not be modified.

According to a transcript of a recent session of the board of directors of Pemex’s ethane unit, acting director Rodulfo Figueroa, admitted that supplying the gas is “the most serious problem” it faces.

Lopez Obrador’s incoming transportation minister, Javier Jimenez Espriu, is an alternate member of the Grupo Idesa board of directors but told Reuters the contract was reviewed by the separate board of the Braskem-Idesa joint venture.

Luis Miguel Labardini, a Mexico City-based energy consultant, said an even bigger problem for Pemex lies with whoever agreed to the contract’s terms in the first place.

“We should give the benefit of the doubt to whoever negotiated this contract that they didn’t act in bad faith,” he said. “But they were negligent.”

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Mexico’s Salina Cruz Refinery Normal After Electrical Accident: Pemex

(Reuters, 17.Oct.2018) — Mexico’s Salina Cruz oil refinery is operating normally after three people were injured in an electrical accident, a spokesman for state oil company Pemex said on Wednesday.

The 330,000 barrel-per-day capacity facility, Pemex’s largest, had a short-circuit on Tuesday evening that sparked flames, the spokesman said.

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Argentina Plans To Close LNG Importing Facility

(Bloomberg, Jonathan Gilbert, 17.Oct.2018) — Argentina plans to close a facility for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, after booming production from shale deposits in the Vaca Muerta region turned the country into a seasonal exporter.

A contract with Excelerate Energy, which has a regasification ship moored at the Atlantic port of Bahia Blanca, won’t be renewed when it expires at the end of the month, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t yet public. Argentina will continue to import LNG at another facility in Escobar, on the River Plate estuary, the people said.

YPF SA, the state-run oil company that manages the contract, declined to comment on the decision. A spokeswoman for Excelerate didn’t immediately comment.

The decision not to renew the decade-old contract comes as output from Vaca Muerta, the nation’s answer to the Permian basin, has created an oversupply of gas during the summer. Shale gas production soared to 205 million cubic meters a day in August, more than triple the level seen a year earlier. The government has negotiated exports to Chile to help solve the problem. It has also initiated talks to receive less gas from neighboring Bolivia, with which it has a contract through 2026.

Three Cheniere Energy tankers were set to unload at Bahia Blanca this year through May, according to the latest official import schedule.

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YPF Inaugurates Phase I Of 99-MW Wind Park In Argentina

(Renewables Now, 17.Oct.2018) — Argentine state-run oil company YPF inaugurated on Wednesday a portion of a 99-MW wind park in Chubut province that will produce clean power for its deposits and refineries.

The first 50-MW phase of Manantiales Behr, as the park is named, has been switched on. The whole wind farm is comprised of 30 wind turbines in total, spread over an area of 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres), with 25 installed and five nearing completion.

Through YPF Luz, the oil company invested some USD 200 million (EUR 173.82m) in Manantiales Behr. Once fully operation it will be producing as much power as Comodoro Rivadavia city consumer, offsetting 241,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

Currently, YPF Luz has 1,800 MW of operational assets in its portfolio, and it plans to double its capacity in the upcoming years. It also has 800 MW of green projects under evaluation or construction, it noted.

(USD 1 = EUR 0.87)

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Trump Talks Tough On Venezuela, But Imports Ever More Venezuelan Oil

(Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer, 17.Oct.2018) — There is a major inconsistency in President Trump’s stand on Venezuela: He talks tough — and even makes veiled threats of a military intervention in that country. But at the same time, he steadfastly refuses to cut U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil, which are the main source of income of Venezuela’s dictatorship.

In fact, the United States has been increasing purchases of Venezuelan oil recently. While U.S. oil imports from Venezuela had decreased in recent years, they have been rising since February and increased by 28 percent in September, according to the Refinitiv Eikon data firm.

What the United States buys accounts for up to 80 percent of Venezuela’s oil income. If the Trump administration drastically cut its oil imports, President Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship —which already faces a 1 million percent annual inflation rate and widespread food and medicine shortages —would have a hard time surviving, some critics of the Maduro regime say.

So why doesn’t Trump reduce Venezuelan oil imports?

First, because U.S. refiners in the Gulf Coast oppose it, saying that it would drive up domestic gas prices and affect pro-Trump constituencies in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. Trump would lose more votes in those states than he would gain among Venezuelan Americans in Florida, some advisers are telling him.

Second, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are focused on crippling Iran’s oil exports. Many in the White House think that causing a simultaneous collapse of both Iranian and Venezuelan oil exports would drive up world oil prices and hurt U.S. consumers, oil experts say.

Third, and perhaps most interesting, while Trump likes to talk tough on Venezuela to gain votes in Florida, he may fear producing a worse humanitarian crisis that would almost commit him to a military intervention there.

“If you break it, you buy it,” George David Banks, a former international energy and environment adviser to Trump, told the S&P Global Platts website. “The White House doesn’t want to own this crisis.”

Trump has stepped up Obama administration’s individual sanctions against top officials of the Maduro regime, and imposed sanctions on purchases of Venezuela’s debt. But “the Trump administration is more hesitant than ever” to impose oil sanctions, says the Platts report.

Supporters of reducing U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil reject the idea that such a move would aggravate the country’s humanitarian crisis without necessarily bringing down the Maduro regime. Accelerating the country’s collapse to force a regime change is the best option available, they argue.

And a cutback of Venezuelan oil imports would not necessarily give Maduro a propaganda victory by allowing him to play the victim of U.S. “imperialism.” Trump could simply reduce Venezuelan oil purchases, without declaring an oil embargo or saying a word about it, they say.

But perhaps the strongest argument for a gradual U.S. cutback of oil purchases is that it would lead other countries to take the Trump administration seriously when it asks for international sanctions against Venezuela.

Many foreign officials ask: How can the Trump administration ask others to impose economic sanctions when the United States is Venezuela’s biggest trading partner, in effect, bankrolling the Maduro regime?

When I asked Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri in an interview last year what the international community should do to help restore democracy in Venezuela, he responded that the first step should be taken by the United States.

“If the United States really took a measure such as suspending oil purchases from Venezuela, the Maduro regime would have a serious financing problem,” Macri told me. He added that by cutting Venezuelan oil imports, “The United States could change things (in Venezuela) definitively.”

I’m not sure that drastically cutting U.S. oil purchases from Venezuela would be the best idea; it likely would come at a huge humanitarian cost. But this much is clear: If Trump wants other countries to step up sanctions against Venezuela, he, himself, should consider a gradual slowdown in U.S. purchases of Venezuelan oil, instead of sending more cash to the Maduro regime.

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U.S. Eyes More Venezuelan Sanctions, But Oil On Backburner: U.S. Official

(Reuters, Roberta Rampton, 17.Oct.2018) — The United States plans to turn up sanctions pressure on Venezuela but sees less need to immediately target its energy sector, given sagging production from the OPEC member’s state-run oil company, a senior U.S. administration official said on Wednesday.

The U.S. government has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan military and political figures close to socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who it blames for trampling on human rights and triggering the country’s economic collapse.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration had weighed escalating sanctions by targeting a Venezuelan military-run oil services company or restricting insurance coverage for oil shipments.

The actions would have built upon last year’s ban for U.S. banks from any new debt deals with Venezuelan authorities or state-run oil giant PDVSA.

Asked by reporters whether the U.S. government had slowed down on its push for sectoral sanctions, the senior official described them as some of the many “tools” it is keeping in reserve. “With regards to Venezuela, all options are on the table,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” the official said.

Venezuela’s crude oil production hit a 28-year low in 2017, a slump blamed on poor management and corruption.

“At the end of the day, Nicolas Maduro has taken care of really running PDVSA to the ground, and essentially more and more making it a non-factor,” he said.

Almost 2 million Venezuelans have fled since 2015, driven out by food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime. The exodus has overwhelmed neighboring countries.

Maduro, who denies limiting political freedoms, has said he is the victim of an “economic war” led by U.S.-backed adversaries.

The Trump administration also plans to ramp up economic pressure on Cuba’s military and intelligence services, the official said.

In his speech last month to the United Nations, President Donald Trump linked Venezuela’s crises to “its Cuban sponsors.”

“That is a message that we will continue to put out, but frankly its a message that the region needs to talk about,” the official said, noting John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, is expected to elaborate on the issue publicly soon.

“The issue of Cuban involvement in Venezuela is a fact. It’s not a theory, it’s not a story,” the official said.

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Pemex Seeks Up To 2.1 MMbbls Of U.S. Bakken Crude -Traders

(Reuters, 17.Oct.2018) — Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex received bids this week for up to six 350,000-barrel cargoes of U.S. Bakken crude it wants to import from November through December, according to traders with knowledge of the tender.

This is Pemex’s second attempt to import U.S. light oil mostly for its Salina Cruz refinery. A previous tender launched earlier this month to buy U.S. Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) crude was not awarded due to lack of bids.

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PDVSA, Pequiven Retirees Protest Lack Of Pension Payments

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 17.Oct.2018) — Retired workers with PDVSA and Pequiven spoke out in the streets in a protest aimed at calling attention to pensions unpaid by the Venezuelan government.

Unfortunately, a number of retired company workers have died waiting for pension payments, reported Venezuelan media El Carabobeño, citing José Castillo, director of the Association of Retirees and Pensioners at PDVSA and Pequiven.

In the past four years we have tried and done everything to get PDVSA to pay the pensions, but to-date these efforts have been in vain, said Castillo.

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Merrill Lynch Interested In Guyana’s Proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund

(Stabroek News, 17.Oct.2018) — Representatives of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management have met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Guyana after recently indicating an interest in engaging in discussions with those charged with the responsibility of setting up Guyana’s Sovereign Wealth Fund says Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge.

They are interested in Guyana’s proposed sovereign wealth fund, Greenidge said noting that they have a variety of expertise in the setting up of such funds, and providing options for collaboration that they can offer.

Merrill Lynch, the investment arm of the Bank of America Corporation, Greenidge told the media yesterday at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Takuba Lodge, Georgetown, asked the Guyana delegation for a meeting on the sidelines of the recently- concluded United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.

“They wanted to be briefed on what we are doing in relation to oil and petroleum and how they might help,” he said.

Merrill Lynch, he said, was interested in speaking to those who are responsible for setting up and organising the fund. “So we channeled them to the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance (Winston Jordan).”

At the New York meeting, Greenidge said, the ministry’s function was to listen to Merrill Lynch’s officials.

“We listened to them and explained what we are doing in a variety of areas and facilitated a meeting between themselves and the Ministry of Finance. I believe the Minister of Finance was not able to see them but the Governor of the Central Bank did.”

The investment arm, he said, has capacity and extensive experience in the management of the equivalent of sovereign wealth funds. They did not discuss with them their interests, but explained, what is currently in place in relation to dealing with the fledging oil sector.

Merrill Lynch is not a stranger to Guyana, Greenidge said. When he was the minister of finance in a previous government, he said, the investment division facilitated the Bank of Guyana and the Bank of America working together. “They are not new to Guyana.”

Meanwhile, at the same UNGA meeting, the Guyana delegation to the UNGA also met with the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), a US-based organisation of a large number of international corporations that facilitates mutually beneficial, person-to-person relationships between business and government leaders worldwide. “I make mention of this,” Greenidge said, “so that you can understand that as a result of both the diplomatic initiative and of the development of petroleum resources, a number of these international multilateral agencies have taken an interest and would like more extensive cooperation with us.”

Interestingly, he said, the meeting was chaired by Jamaican-born Ginelle Baugh, BCIU’s Vice President of Finance.

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Pemex Places $2 Billion Bond In International Markets

Pemex CEO Carlos Treviño Medina. Source: Pemex

(Pemex, 16.Oct.2018) — Petróleos Mexicanos in September disclosed the application of a series of operating and marketing measures could generate an improvement of 30 billion pesos on the 2018 balance sheet, placing the company at an approximate deficit of 49.414 billion pesos, instead of the deficit for 79.414 billion pesos that was originally approved by the Congress.

In line with the above, Pemex is reducing its debt outlook for 2018, this will focus exclusively on financing the updated deficit of 49.414 billion pesos. In the framework of the financing program authorized for 2018, today the company placed a bond in the international debt markets:

— The total amount of the bond is 2 billion American dollars, with a 10-year maturity.

— This placement’s maturity date is due on January 2029 and yields an interest rate of approximately 6.5 per cent for the investor.

The resources from this emission will be used to comply with Pemex’s investment program, as well as to liquidate or refinance debt to its favor. This operation strengthens the cash level for the end of 2018 and guarantees the company’s liquidity for the beginning of 2019.

The placements performed throughout the year are directed towards the appropriate functioning of the company in compliance with its Business Plan. During the issuance process, talks were held with the transition team for the new Federal Administration.

Investors, mainly from United States, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Mexico participated in this transaction, which had a demand of 5.9 times the amount placed. Placement agents for this bond were HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Scotiabank and UBS.

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Mexico’s AMLO Presses Big Oil To Start Pumping From Recent Finds

(Oilprice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, 16.Oct.2018) — Mexico wants Big Oil to start producing from the recently discovered oil fields in Mexico as soon as possible, incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told foreign executives at a recent meeting, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting sources and executives who attended the meeting.

In this first meeting with major international oil companies operating in Mexico, however, the president-elect didn’t give any indication whether new oil blocks will be offered and oil tenders held, according to attendees who spoke to Reuters.

Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto opened up the energy sector to foreign investment in 2013, ending 70 years of state monopoly. Since then, Mexico has held several successful auctions that have attracted oil majors to its oil and gas exploration industry.

However, incoming president López Obrador, who takes office in December, has been critical of the energy reform and has vowed to review the contracts that foreign firms have already signed with Mexico.

In July, Mexico’s energy regulator postponed two oil auctions that were set for September and October to February 2019, after López Obrador takes office this December. Then in August, reports emerged that the incoming administration was thinking of indefinitely halting competitive tenders for oil and gas in Mexico.

Last month, the incoming administration began the review process for a contract with a consortium led by U.S. Talos Energy.

Talos Energy’s chief executive Tim Duncan was one of the executives who met with López Obrador at the first meeting with foreign oil firms at the end of September.
“We know we have to exceed expectations and we’re trying to make sure we do that,” Duncan told Reuters.

López Obrador wants to reverse a decline in Mexico’s oil production as many oil fields are maturing. Mexico’s current oil production stands at about 1.84 million bpd, of which 60 percent is exported.

López Obrador signaled at the meeting that he would put around 20 currently idle drilling rigs of Mexican oil service firms to work for state energy firm Pemex, three executives who attended the meeting told Reuters.

The incoming president still needs to show that he is on board with foreign investments and still needs to hold tenders if he is to meet his goal of reversing the slide in production.

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Mexico And Brazil’s Crude Politics

(Foreign Policy, Lisa Viscidi, .16.Oct.2018) — A potential return to resource nationalism could set both countries back.

Until this year, resource nationalism—when a government asserts its control over a country’s natural resources—seemed to be on the wane in Latin America. With oil prices low, state oil companies were struggling, and market-friendly governments had started opening their energy industries to private investment.

In the coming months, though, the region’s two largest economies may both have new leaders who came to power on promises of a return to the old days. In Mexico, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s vow to restore Mexico’s state energy companies to their glory days and his emphasis on energy independence from the United States were central to his campaign. Similarly, Brazilian presidential candidate Fernando Haddad (who is polling well behind his rival, Jair Bolsonaro, but could still eke out a win later this month) wants to reassert state oil and power companies’ dominant positions in Brazilian energy markets. Both López Obrador and Haddad have argued that the current Mexican and Brazilian governments, in trying to open energy sectors to private investment, have effectively handed over state assets to foreign companies.

This is not the first time Latin American countries have flip-flopped on resource nationalism. The idea was initially championed in the 1950s and ’60s by Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, the Venezuelan oil minister who helped found OPEC, and Getúlio Vargas, the Brazilian president who created the state oil company Petrobras in 1953. The slogan he gave it: “O petróleo é nosso,” or “The oil is ours.”

In the 1990s, historically low oil prices pushed Latin America’s energy sectors toward privatization. Petrobras shares were floated on the São Paulo and New York stock exchanges. Argentina’s state oil company, YPF, was sold off to private investors entirely. Then, in the early 2000s, as oil prices rose again, governments across the region began expropriating energy assets. A wave of recent reforms, again tied to low prices, encouraged private investment once more. In Mexico and Brazil, however, these reforms were never popular. And so, in both countries, the idea of energy sovereignty, part of a broader economic nationalist and protectionist approach, is again taking root.

For his part, López Obrador has long criticized the energy reform that the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, signed into law in December 2013. That reform revised the constitution to open the oil and power sectors to greater private investment, creating competition for state monopolies. As a presidential candidate, López Obrador condemned the opening as putting the country’s riches into foreign rather than Mexican hands. Now, he wants to strengthen the state oil company, Pemex. He has vowed to increase Pemex’s investment budget to boost oil production, which has plummeted to 1.8 million barrels per day from a peak of 3.4 million barrels per day in 2004. His goal of 2.6 million barrels per day by the end of his term in 2024 is ambitious.

In order to end imports of gasoline from the United States by 2022, another of the president-elect’s goals, López Obrador plans to build a new refinery in his home state of Tabasco and upgrade six existing refineries, which would add over 1 million barrels per day in output if all existing refineries ran at full capacity. Mexico produces mostly heavy crude oil, much of which it ships to the United States for refining. It then imports about 1.3 million barrels per day of refined products back from the United States for domestic consumption. At the same time, López Obrador has promised Mexican voters a decrease in gasoline prices. The Peña Nieto government had cut gasoline subsidies just as international oil prices started to rise again, causing a 20 percent bump in fuel prices.

In the power sector, López Obrador plans to strengthen the state utility company and expand hydroelectric capacity in Mexico to slash imports of natural gas. In recent years, Mexico has become a critical market for U.S. shale gas as the pipeline infrastructure between the two countries has been beefed up. Cheap U.S. natural gas has also lowered the cost of electricity generation in Mexico, so tapering off the imports could hurt on both sides of the border.

In Brazil, the polarizing right-wing candidate Bolsonaro, who won 46 percent of the vote in the country’s first-round presidential election on Oct. 7, will face Haddad, a left-wing candidate from the Workers’ Party, in a second round later this month.

Bolsonaro has said that he is open to foreign investment, privatizing state companies, and creating more competition in oil and gas markets. He would likely push onward with the Petrobras divestment plan that was started under the current center-right president, Michel Temer. As part of that plan, which was designed to reduce Petrobras’s enormous debt, the company has sold off assets in refining, logistics, and transport to focus on its more profitable core business of oil exploration and production. Continued privatization is worthwhile, but beyond his support for it, Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for lacking any specific energy plan or even a detailed economic agenda.

Haddad, meanwhile, is fairly clear in his support for a return to the resource nationalism favored by his fellow Workers’ Party member former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Following the 2007 discovery of vast deepwater oil reserves, Lula introduced reforms that increased the government’s stake in Petrobras and made the state company the exclusive operator of the new fields. Temer later signed a law that reversed Lula’s bill, creating more opportunities for private investment in the sector. Haddad has promised to reverse Temer’s reversal and recover the oil to benefit the people. He has also pledged to strengthen Petrobras and to support the development of local industries by increasing local content requirements in oil exploitation and production. In short, Haddad would likely look to slow Petrobras’s divestment to keep energy assets in the state company’s hands and reassert its role as a driver of economic development.

Once in office, the new leaders of Mexico and Brazil will inevitably face challenges to implementing many of their plans. It is unlikely that Brazil’s next president will have enough support in Congress to overturn Temer’s law, for example. Likewise, in Mexico, although the president has broad powers to roll back aspects of the energy reform, only a two-thirds congressional majority—which López Obrador is unlikely to secure—can undo a constitutional reform. And in both countries, the administrations would face major legal challenges if they tried to unilaterally change existing contracts with private energy companies.

And then there’s the budget to think of. New refineries cost billions of dollars, are highly susceptible to corruption, and ultimately won’t lower gasoline prices for consumers. Expanding large hydroelectric dams also takes money, and it presents tremendous social and environmental challenges. Forcing a state oil company to operate all exploration and production projects risks massive corporate debt and a credit rating downgrade—precisely what happened to Petrobras under Lula and his successor, Dilma Rousseff. Meanwhile, strict local content requirements that are not coupled with programs to modernize local suppliers merely slow the development of oil and gas reserves. Despite the discovery of the undersea reserves in 2007—one of the most significant oil finds in the world in years—Brazil’s oil production remained nearly flat for years.

State-led development of energy resources can be very successful. Witness Saudi Aramco, the state oil company that has made Saudi Arabia one of the largest oil producers in the world. But experience in Latin America suggests that giving state companies a monopoly over energy production tends to restrict the industry rather than boosting it. And beyond that, it is worth considering whether it is wise to continue depending on oil to float the economy at all. As many other countries around the world, from nearby Colombia to Saudi Arabia, debate whether the time has come to transition the economy away from dependence on fossil fuels, in Mexico and Brazil, debates over energy policy continue to focus on nationalization versus privatization.

Considering resource nationalism’s poor track record in actually benefiting most citizens, it is time for these countries to shift the focus of policy discussions toward addressing today’s more pressing problems.

Lisa Viscidi is the director of the Energy, Climate Change, and Extractive Industries Program at the Inter-American Dialogue.

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Texas Would Have A ‘Party’ If Mexico Prohibited Fracking

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 16.Oct.2018) — Prohibiting fracking in a generalized manner, as announced by Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), would be an error that would benefit the United States.

“I’d regret this initiative to ban fracking in a general way in our country. The day it happens there would be a party in Texas for the gift we Mexicans are giving them,” reported Mexican media El Financiero, citing Mexico’s Energy Secretariat Pedro Joaquín Coldwell. “It would condemn [Mexico] to continue importing gas.”

Besides, approximately 53% of Mexico’s gas reserves are precisely unconventional resources, he added.

Fracking has been carried out in Mexico since 1960, and nearly 22% of the wells that have been exploited in conventional deposits have used this controversial technique in one way or another, announced Coldwell.

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Argentina Looks to Cease Bolivian Gas Imports By 2020

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 16.Oct.2018) — With its own gas projects to develop, Argentina is seeking to reduce imports of natural gas and by 2020 it expects to stop buying it completely from Bolivia.

In the run up period, Argentina looks to reduce Bolivian gas imports by 20% in 2018, by 50% in 2019, and by 2020 they would no longer be necessary, reported Bolivian media La Razon, citing Argentina’s Energy Secretary Javier Iguacel.

The plan announced by the Argentine official is based on three current massive developments and four other promised in the Vaca Muerta formation, which spans four provinces: Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa and Mendoza.

Currently, the Neuquén Basin produces almost 70 million cubic meters of gas per day (MMcm/d) and Argentina expects to boost production in the basin to nearly 90 MMcm/d with additional investments.

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Mexico’s Lopez Obrador Pushes Big Oil To Hurry, But Offers Little

(Reuters, David Alire Garcia, Marianna Parraga, 16.Oct.2018) — At his first meeting with foreign oil majors, Mexico’s leftist president-elect pushed the companies to prove themselves by quickly pumping oil from recent finds, sources say, but gave no sign of offering up new fields to reverse dwindling output.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador repeated a promise to respect more than 100 existing contracts awarded following a sweeping five-year-old energy overhaul as long as a review by his team finds no corruption. And he added: companies must show results, three executives who attended the meeting said.

For U.S. independent Talos Energy, which is developing a high-profile, big offshore discovery announced last year along with partners Premier Oil and Sierra Oil & Gas, Lopez Obrador’s message was clear: quickly bring new streams of production online.

“We know we have to exceed expectations and we’re trying to make sure we do that,” said Talos Energy CEO Tim Duncan, one of the executives who attended the session.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, the president-elect also criticized the 2013 constitutional reform for failing to stop an extended output slide.

Operators such as Talos and Italy’s Eni, which also announced a major offshore find last year, are on Lopez Obrador’s watch list to pump oil quickly, said Carlos Pascual, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico who now helps run consultancy IHS Markit’s global energy business.

“The focus on increased barrels is going to create greater pressure for some companies,” he said.

The oil and gas blocks awarded in bidding rounds over the past three years to companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron will result in $160 billion in new investment, the outgoing government estimates.

Lopez Obrador’s pick to be the new oil minister, Rocio Nahle, did not respond to a request for comment about Lopez Obrador’s presentation.

RIG OIL NOT BIG OIL

At the meeting, Lopez Obrador also explained he intends to put some 20 idle drilling rigs belonging to a few Mexican service firms to work for state giant Pemex, according to three executives who attended the meeting.

The executives, who asked not to be named to avoid any ill-will from the incoming government, said they were surprised at the decision to talk up the service contracts for Pemex instead of encouraging much bigger investments the oil companies are capable of making.

A former senior executive with Pemex said the plan could add at most 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) to Mexico’s 1.8 million bpd production in a year, far short of the 40 percent increase to 2.6 million bpd he is targeting during his six year term.

Lopez Obrador is a long-time critic of the energy reform that brought major oil companies to Mexico for the first time in more than 70 years, and has warned he will not offer up more areas for auction.

Oil companies still hope he will soften that position in order to meet his ambitious production goals.

The veteran leftist politician adopted a diplomatic tone at the industry session, said the company executives, and his team even pledged to ease regulatory delays companies face.

“Reality could force pragmatism,” said an oil executive who attended the meeting, arguing it is highly unlikely Mexico could meet Lopez Obrador’s lofty output goal with government spending alone.

As an indicator, firms are closely watching whether oil auctions set for February by Mexico’s independent oil regulator will be canceled or postponed after Lopez Obrador takes office in December.

If that happens, along with the pledge to focus production plans on squeezing more out of Pemex fields with local rigs, outside investment could cool for years in Mexico’s oil patch, home to under-explored shale plays and the country’s potentially lucrative deepwater Gulf of Mexico, according to the executives and sector analysts.

The head of the oil regulator, Juan Carlos Zepeda, has said Pemex would need to dedicate $20 billion each year to exploration and production activities to hit Lopez Obrador’s output goal, about double this year’s budget.

Advisor Rocio Nahle, Lopez Obrador’s pick to be energy minister, said last month Pemex will be allocated about $4 billion for “exploration and drilling” in 2019, without going into detail.

The nearly two hour meeting between Lopez Obrador and oil company executives ended with a promise to maintain “continuous dialogue” going forward

However, there was no question-and-answer period, and following the set speeches, Lopez Obrador and his senior energy aides quickly departed. No new meetings have yet been scheduled.

One attendee bluntly quipped afterwards: “He really doesn’t like us.”

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Echo Energy, YPFB Sign Technical Evaluation Agreement For Rio Salado Block

(Echo Energy plc, 15.Oct.2018) — Echo Energy plc signed on 12 October 2018 a Technical Evaluation Agreement (TEA) for the Rio Salado Block, onshore Bolivia, directly with YPFB (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos).

The agreement was signed by Andres Brockman (Echo Regional Representative) and Oscar Barriga (President of YPFB) in the presence of James Thornton (Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Plurinational State of Bolivia) in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

The work programme will include the interpretation and integration of three 2D seismic lines, acquired in 2015 / 2016 and only recently made available, which transect part of the block. These will be important in further refining the definition of a deep structure mapped across the Rio Salado and Huayco blocks. Management estimates for Original Gas In Place are 1.75 TCF (mean) for the whole structure, across both blocks.

At the end of the TEA period the company will have the right to negotiate contract terms with YPFB for the Rio Salado licence should it elect to do so.

Huayco Block

Echo also announced it is continuing the Joint Evaluation Agreement with Pluspetrol over the Huayco block. During the past 12 months Echo completed a full reprocessing of a 250 km2 cube of 3D data across Huayco and part of Rio Salado. This was integrated into a 3D structural model, which will form the basis of the ongoing work with Pluspetrol.

“We are delighted to have signed the TEA with YPFB for the Rio Salado block, as well as extended our agreement with Pluspetrol regarding Huayco, given the potential we see running across both blocks. Much technical work has been done and we are pleased that by extending our agreement with Pluspetrol we have given ourselves time to further analyse what we still believe to be exciting potential as we evaluate newly available industry data across the licence areas,” said Echo Energy plc CEO Fiona MacAulay.

The acquisition of an interest by Echo in Rio Salado remains contingent on final commercial terms being agreed. Accordingly, the company does not have an interest or the right to acquire any interest at this stage.

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Engie And Caisse Said To Plan $9B Pipeline Bid

(Bloomberg, Cristiane Lucchesi, Francois Beaupuy, Scott Deveau, 15.Oct.2018) — French utility Engie SA and a Canadian pension fund plan to offer as much as $9 billion (34 billion reals) for Petrobras’s natural gas pipeline network, potentially a $1 billion boost from their initial bid, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA is now finalizing terms with Engie and the Canadian fund, Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. Petrobras then plans to touch base with other groups for a second round of bids that must meet the terms agreed to with Engie. In April, Mubadala Development, in a consortium with EIG Global Energy Partners, and Macquarie Group Ltd. presented two separate bids, people said at the time.

Spokesmen from Engie, Caisse and Petrobras declined to comment.

The 2,800-mile (4,500 kilometer) pipeline network, Transportadora Associada de Gas, or TAG, spans ten states in northeastern Brazil. It’s being sold as part of a wider push by Petrobras to sell $21 billion in assets to slash debt. If consummated, it would be the company’s biggest divestment ever.

Engie, whose initial $8 billion bid including debt was the highest, is planning to raise its offer to ensure it prevails at a time when cheap credit is available to help finance the acquisition, the people with knowledge of the talks said.

Petrobras aims to conclude a deal this year, the people said, but the divestment program still faces uncertainty. In July, Ricardo Lewandowski, a Supreme Court judge, ruled that the sale of any government-owned company asset, including subsidiaries, must be approved by Congress.

Petrobras will try to resume negotiations over TAG even without a final decision from the court, Valor newspaper reported Oct. 10.

In 2017, Petrobras sold Nova Transportadora do Sudeste, a similar but smaller pipeline network in Brazil’s southeast, to a consortium led by Brookfield Asset Management for $5.2 billion.

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Petrobras Expects To Revive TAG Deal Over The Next Month: Sources

(Reuters, Tatiana Bautzer, 15.Oct.2018) — Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA expects to revive the sale of its pipeline operator TAG over the next month, if it can get a Supreme Court injunction lifted, with the support of the country’s solicitor-general, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

In July, Petrobras, as the oil company is known, was wrapping up exclusive talks with France’s Engie SA when the process was blocked by a Supreme Court injunction ordering asset sales by state companies be approved by Congress.[nL1N1TZ0IO]

The source, who asked for anonymity to discuss the matter, said Petrobras plans to use a section of Brazil’s 1997 oil law regarding privatizations in an appeal before the Supreme Court.

The company is not planning to circumvent the injunction, the source said, contradicting local media reports.

Petrobras did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Petrobras is allowed to proceed with the deal, the company will finish drafting the sale contract with Engie and then allow new bids from the other two groups interested in the gas pipeline network.

However, Petrobras and Engie have not yet restarted talks, which are currently forbidden by the Supreme Court injunction, the source added.

Engie may have to beat bids from two rival consortia after its exclusivity period ends.

One is led by investor EIG Global Energy Partners and United Arab Emirates’ sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development Co PJSC. The second is led by Australia’s Macquarie Bank Ltd.

The competing consortia have not yet been contacted by Petrobras, two other people with knowledge of the matter added.

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Echo Energy Announces Successful Initial Perforation At EMS-1001 Well In Argentina

(Echo Energy plc, 15.Oct.2018) — Echo Energy plc announced an update on the initial perforation phase on the third Argentinian well.

The company previously drilled four wells across its onshore licences in Argentina. On 21 June 2018, the company announced that the third well in the sequence (EMS-1001 in the Fraccion C licence which reached a total depth of 2460m in the Upper Jurassic Tobifera formation) was considered potentially material and transformational. This followed initial interpretation (from the wireline logs) of an extended oil column in the Tobifera Formation.

Echo has now perforated and performed inflow tests on two representative intervals, with a view to ensuring no mobile formation water presence prior to rigless mechanical stimulation of the well (the standard technique in this basin).

The results of the inflow tests confirm intervals are suitable for mechanical stimulation.

The rig is now off contract and has been demobilised following completion of all anticipated rig based activities. Once design and planning is complete Echo expects to return to EMS-1001 and co-ordinate activity with planned stimulation of the ELM-1004 anticipated to commence by year-end.

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PDVSA Preparing $950 Million Payment On 2020 Bond: Sources

(Reuters, 15.Oct.2018) — Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA is preparing to pay holders of its 2020 bond some $950 million this month, after failing to make interest payments on most other bonds this year, sources at the company and in the local financial sector said.

PDVSA has fallen behind on more than $7 billion in principal and interest payments since the end of 2017, according to market sources and Refinitiv data, as an economic crisis in Venezuela has worsened.

But cash-strapped PDVSA has stayed current on the 2020 issue, which is backed by 50.1 percent of shares in U.S. refining network Citgo.

“Quevedo gave his approval to arrange this payment,” said one person at PDVSA familiar with the plans, referring to Manuel Quevedo, Venezuela’s oil minister who is also president of PDVSA. “It will be paid in full.”

Another source at PDVSA and three sources in Venezuela’s financial industry confirmed that the company plans to pay. The sources spoke last week and requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.

PDVSA must pay $840 million by Oct. 27 to cover an amortization payment on the bond, and then has 30 more days to make a $107 million interest payment.

“PDVSA has been making payments on the 2020 bond and they tell us they plan to keep doing so,” said one local financial operator who has spoken with the company about the plans.

To be sure, this year PDVSA has made payments only on its 2020 and 2022 bonds, prompting ratings agencies to declare the company and Venezuela’s government in selective default. The drop in crude prices that began in 2014 and an ensuing decline in production have reduced the OPEC nation’s government revenue.

Investors believe PDVSA will prioritize the 2020 bond because of the potential implications for Citgo. The remaining shares in the refiner are already pledged to Russia’s Rosneft as collateral on a $1.5 billion loan.

And it is also under threat from Canadian miner Crystallex, which has won a judge’s authorization to seize Citgo shares to collect on a $1.4 billion award stemming from a decade-long nationalization dispute.

“PDVSA has demonstrated via its legal efforts a strong preference to maintain ownership of Citgo,” JP Morgan wrote in a note to clients last week.

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Echo Energy Continues To Progress Argentina Wells, Signs New Deal In Bolivia

(Proactive Investors, 15.Oct.2018) — Echo Energy Plc told investors that it has confirmed that its third Argentinian well will be suitable for mechanical stimulation, and, it will now move on to the next stage in operations.

The company, in a statement, updated on the EMS-1001 well at the Fraccion C – which was drilled into the Jurassic Tobifera formation, previously described as “material and transformational”.

Latest operations saw the company perforate and perform inflow tests on two intervals, to ensure there’s no mobile formation water presence ahead of rigless mechanical stimulation work.

The drill rig has now been demobilised, meanwhile, design and planning are being finalised for the stimulation work. The company expects to start the stimulation of both the EMS-1001 and ELM-1004 wells before the end of this year.

Separately, Echo also announced that it has signed a new agreement in Bolivia for the onshore Rio Salado Block.

A technical evaluation agreement (TEA) was signed between Echo Energy Plc and state-owned oil and gas firm YPFB (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos).

It details the work commitments for Echo to undertake at Rio Salado, including the interpretation and integration of 2D seismic data with a view to better understand deep structures which have been mapped as crossing between the Rio Salado and Huayco blocks.

Echo highlighted that it has estimated the whole structure at around 1.75 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.

At the end of the TEA period, Echo will have the right to negotiate a longer-term contract with YPFB.

The company also said that it will continue to advance its joint venture at Huayco where, in the past year, it has completed a full reprocessing of 250 square kilometres of 3D seismic data.

‘We are delighted to have signed the TEA with YPFB for the Rio Salado block, as well as extended our agreement with Pluspetrol regarding Huayco, given the potential we see running across both blocks,” said Fiona MacAulay, Echo chief executive.

“Much technical work has been done and we are pleased that by extending our agreement with Pluspetrol we have given ourselves time to further analyse what we still believe to be exciting potential as we evaluate newly available industry data across the licence areas.”

Echo noted that it does not yet hold an interest in Rio Salado, and any acquisition of a stake in the exploration venture remains contingent upon agreeing to commercial terms in the future.

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Bolivia’s Oil Revenue To Reach $2.2 Billion

(Xinhua, 14.Oct.2018) — Bolivia’s oil revenue this year is estimated to reach 2.2 billion U.S. dollars as it “will be able to fulfill” contracts with its southern American partners, Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy Luis Alberto Sanchez said Saturday.

“The income to the country is guaranteed,” Sanchez said. “We should feel certain about the expected income from the export of gas because we will be able to fulfill the contracts with Argentina until 2026 and with Brazil for the remaining volume to be delivered and an extension of the contract until 2024.”

Bolivia is negotiating an increase in gas sales in western Brazil, the minister said, adding that it is negotiating with new markets that will generate greater benefits through direct sale of natural gas to several Brazilian states.

“This is good for us because it opens up the Brazilian market. The country has all the right conditions to take on these new contracts and at better prices,” he said.

Bolivia is working on the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by way of the Peruvian port of Ilo on the Pacific coast, the government confirmed Saturday.

The deal with Paraguay is under negotiation to supply gas to the Chaco region, a sparsely inhabited area, both at the household level and for the generation of electricity, according to Humberto Salinas, vice minister of Industrialization, Commercialization, Transportation and Hydrocarbon Storage.

“We will be exporting to Paraguay and we will end up opening new overseas markets with the liquified natural gas,” Salinas said.

Bolivia is a major exporter of LNG in South America, with 99 percent of the exports going to Paraguay and Peru, the vice minister said, adding that it hopes to add Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil to the list of export destinations.

Between 1985 and 2005, Bolivia earned 4.587 billion dollars in oil revenue, at an average of 225 million dollars a year. From 2006 to 2015, the total reached 31.573 billion dollars, with a yearly peak of 5.489 billion dollars in 2014.

Bolivia’s GDP growth declined from a peak since the 1970s of 6.8 percent in 2013 to an estimated 4.2 percent in 2017 due to a less favorable international environment and a temporary reduction in the external gas demand, according to the World Bank.

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Air BP Nationalization In Bolivia “Technically” Not Finalized

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 14.Oct.2018) — Bolivia’s Hydrocarbon Minister Luis Alberto Sánchez, acknowledged that nationalization of Air BP, a subsidiary of British Petroleum, in charge of marketing jet fuel and airplane gasoline, wasn’t completed due to lawsuit filed by Aerosur.

“We haven’t finalized the transfer of shares in Air BP to YPFB due to a contingency problem resulting from a lawsuit brought about by Aerosur relating to Air BP,” reported the daily El Diario, citing Sánchez. “As long as it’s not resolved, we can’t move forward,” he said.

On May 1, 2009, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced nationalization of Air BP through Supreme Decree 111, and ordered the Bolivian Armed Forces to intervene in the company.

Although the shares of Air BP haven’t officially been transferred to the Bolivian state, Sanchez assured the nationalization decree related to the company had been fulfilled.

“YPFB has control of the company,” he affirmed.

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Guyana, Canadian Province Signing Oil And Gas Pact

(Stabroek News, 13.Oct.2018) — The Guyana government and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador will be signing a technical cooperation agreement on oil and gas in the coming week, when Georgetown will also be hosting a visit by a 50-odd member trade mission from the territory seeking partnerships with local companies to tap the sector.

The High Commission of Canada yesterday said in a statement that Minister of Natural Resources from Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of her province with the Government of Guyana for technical cooperation on oil and gas.

During her visit, it noted, Minister Coady will also be attending the events organised for the visiting trade mission, which will be visiting from October 15th to October 18th, 2018.

The statement explained that the High Commission and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are collaborating with the Government of Guyana through GO-Invest to bring the Canadian oil and gas trade mission of approximately 50 persons from the province’s offshore oil and gas industry.

“Canadian companies are hoping to leverage partnerships with appropriate Guyanese businesses, and work with them to access opportunities in the oil and gas sector,” it noted.

“Guyana presents world-class, deep-water petroleum prospects which offer business opportunities that align with Newfoundland and Labrador’s petroleum expertise and experience. The development of potential partnerships between the two jurisdictions could serve to build strong business relationships, transfer technology, and skills development to support the growth of Guyana’s offshore oil and gas industry,” it added.

Newfoundland companies, it further said, have been servicing Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels for over 15 years. Companies from this province have also been servicing rigs and drill ships for 40 years, it added.

According to the High Commission, the experience of Newfoundland can be a great potential resource to Guyana in developing its offshore industry through working with experienced partners, such as government and private sector, suppliers and service companies. “This trade mission will expose Canadian companies to the market opportunities, investment regime and qualified local companies,” the High Commission said, while highlighting that the local support for the trade mission so far has been overwhelming. “This highlights the willingness of Guyanese to partner with Canadians, which is largely due to the Canadian model of leveraging local partnerships through building partners’ capabilities to access together the opportunities in this nascent sector,” it added.

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Colombian Court Rules Community Referendums Cannot Block Mining, Oil Projects

(TeleSur, 13.Oct.2018) — The Colombian Constitutional Court has ruled to restrict the power of popular consultations to halt extractive projects.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a Mansarovar Energy, a transnational oil and natural gas company, and against Indigenous communities in the municipality of Cumeral Thursday.

The judgment, however, has far-reaching consequences since it will limit Indigenous communities from using popular consultations or referendums to block extractive industry projects & programs in their territories.

Mansarovar Energy, a Colombian-based company backed by India’s ONGC and Chinese oil firm Sinopec, presented a request for legal protection before the Constitutional Court, calling on it to overrule a decision by a local court of the department of Meta that had given the green light for a popular consultation that effectively halted the extraction of oil in the municipality of Cumeral.

With a five to one vote, the court ruled that Indigenous communities cannot use popular consultations as a mechanism to stop extractive projects arguing the state is the owner of all the resources in the countries subsurface.

This ruling contradicts previous rulings by Colombia’s highest court in which the body validated the mechanism.

The Court also called on Congress to develop a mechanism for citizen participation and “instruments for nation-territory coordination and concurrence,” thus disregarding the existence of popular consultations and citizens’ right to exercise a form of direct democracy. Many have accused Congress and government officials of responding to the interests of transnational companies.

Throughout Colombia, communities have organized nine popular consultations, in which the communities have voted against extractive projects by private companies.

Environmental activists and territorial leaders have said the ruling is an attack on democracy. The Foundation for the Protection and Human Development (Fudopres) condemned the ruling via Twitter saying “democracy is over in Colombia after the Constitutional Court gagged popular consultations.”

Campesino communities have also protested the ruling and accused the justices of being “captured” by corporations. Conflicts over territory are at the core of long-running violence against communities and social leaders, who resist oil and mining project in Colombia’s rural areas.

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Venezuela Solicits Audit of Pacific Coast Refinery, Río Napo

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 13.Oct.2018) — Venezuela has solicited an audit of costs related to the Pacific Coast Refinery and Río Napo JV in order to discuss potential investment plans with Ecuador, reported the daily Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo.

In May 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco announced it was interested in participating in construction of the refinery. At least three consortium have announced interest in the refinery, reported El Universo.

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Uruguay Sets Deadline To Seek Renewable Energy Fiscal Incentives

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 13.Oct.2018) — Companies seeking to benefit from renewable energy tax benefits will have until October 24, 2018 to submit details related to their projects.

Companies that register before the date could potentially obtain equivalent discounts of up to 70% of their investments, reported the daily newspaper LaRed21.

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Shell Seeks To Sell Venezuela JV Stake

(Reuters, 12.Oct.2018) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc is negotiating the sale of its stake in a Venezuelan oil joint venture to Paris-based Maurel & Prom , three sources said this week, a move to scale down its crude business in the ailing OPEC-member country to focus on gas. The Anglo-Dutch company is seeking to sell its 40 percent stake in Petroregional del Lago, a joint venture with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA in the western state of Zulia near Colombia.

The area has been plagued by frequent theft of equipment and near-daily power cuts as Venezuela remains mired in deep recession, hyperinflation and chronic shortages of food and medicine. Foreign companies also have complained in private that joint ventures with PDVSA are stymied by convoluted bureaucracy, dodgy contracts, and lack of resources, according to dozens of sources in the industry.

At Petroregional, Shell has grown frustrated by delays in receiving dividends from PDVSA and a ban on minority partners independently exporting production, one of the sources said. That has deprived Petroregional, which in 2016 produced about 33,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, of much-needed income and dented profitability, the source added. In the last few weeks a disagreement with Venezuela has emerged over a fee called an entrance bonus that Maurel & Prom would have to pay to the government, as required by Venezuelan law, to gain access to the field’s reserves, two of the sources said. Negotiations are currently on hold, they added.

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Bolivia’s Gas Lower than LNG, Vaca Muerta Shale: Sánchez Says

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 12.Oct.2018) — Bolivian natural gas is more competitive than liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas from Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale formation, announced Bolivia’s Hydrocarbon Minister Luis Alberto Sánchez.

The minister stressed that Bolivian gas, priced at $7/MMbtu, was much cheaper than Argentine gas.

Argentina’s LNG imports cost around $10.50/MMbtu, while the production cost in Vaca Muerta is around $7.50/MMbtu, so “the most competitive gas for the Argentine market is undoubtedly Bolivian gas,” reported the daily newspaper El Diario, citing Sánchez.

Sánchez warned that if Argentina decides to pay a lower price (reduces the price), it must pay the Take or Pay (contract modality), which establishes a fine be paid for any energy not withdrawn, plus interest.

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